600 days – A Professional Journey

Today marks the 600th day of the last entry published on this blog, and I decided to celebrate this momentous occasion (!!) by doing some serious housekeeping, starting with the big, thick layer of cyber dust that covers this blog, and updating my readership on what I have been up to for the past year and a half.

The Chapter about ATIF

Soon after publishing my Baby Comeback post, and in spite my best efforts to focus solely on my professional path and the myriad of things I wanted to devote my undivided attention to (don’t we all?) I found myself agreeing to become increasingly involved with my local professional association and Chapter of the American Translators Association, ATIF. I really didn’t know what I was getting into. I was already ATIF’s Secretary –appointed by ATIF’s President when the previous Secretary was suddenly relocated to a different state–, so I thought “Why not?” Looking back, it was probably a decision made too lightly, and although it proved to be challenging at times, I wouldn’t change it for the world: It has been one of the most rewarding and educational jobs I have held as a volunteer in my career.

During my time as ATIF’s Secretary the Board wanted to have a new website, and I took upon myself the task of redesigning and relaunching ATIF’s website. I interviewed several web developers in different countries, submitted proposals for the Board’s approval, and by the end of 2014 I was working with an awesome freelancer, discussing layouts, text, and Customer Relationship Management (CRM) solutions with him, serving as a link between the mostly non-tech savvy Board, and the developer. This task in itself was gargantuan not only from the technical side –where I had the guidance of an expert–, but because it involved reconciling multiple requests from the Board regarding functionalities, capabilities, etc., explaining in non-technical terms what would be done (and how), testing and, also some rewriting and reorganizing of the website. In short: ATIF’s virtual existence (and that of its members) was in my hands and I took this responsibility very seriously. I won’t lie: There were some trying moments, long hours of work –mostly into the night because I was also extremely busy at work, and fires to put out, even after the site was up and running… I guess this is where I’m supposed to say that it was all worth it, and yada, yada, but the truth is that ATIF’s current website speaks for itself, and I’ll let you be the judge of that.

Aside from a project I’m very proud of and that will forever live in my résumé, this experience has been priceless to me. It taught me a great deal about:
– Presenting technical content to a non-technical audience
– Working with web designers and developers
– The value of networking and creating meaningful connections with business partners
– Overhauling and implementing innovation in old structures (both figuratively and in reality)
– WordPress and Presspoint, a powerful CRM.

Upon launching the website in April of 2015, I quickly moved to my next project: Creating, maintaining, populating, and finding content (and authors) for the ATA 56th Annual Conference page in ATIF’s website. Did I mention that this conference that attracts over 1600 people each year was going to be in November in Miami, and that we, as the local ATA Chapter, were the official hosts? No pressure, right?

As of January 2015 I had become Vice President of ATIF’s Interim Board. Our board’s mission was to realign ATIF with its goals, deliver the website, increase membership, conduct elections in November, and host the ATA conference. I couldn’t have asked for a better team, and I am proud to say that we successfully completed all these tasks. I am very grateful to my fellow board members, and to the membership who was very supportive along the way. My position as a VP allowed me to learn more about ATA as an organization and to feel even prouder to be a member.

In great company at the SPD dinner during the ATA Conference in November.
In great company at the SPD dinner during the ATA Conference in November, 2015.

Fast forward to November 2015: The ATA Conference was a great success (we had around 1800 attendees), people were ecstatic about the page we put together with local resources, stories, and tips, and we received great comments about the Hospitality Desk (organized by ATIF, but manned by our wonderful volunteers –both members and non-members of ATIF, as well as the Board).

We also created a storyline with a flamingo named Florencio –a plush flamingo toy– who was a sensation during the conference.

I don’t know if it was because it happened in my turf, or because I knew more people, or what it was, but this was my 9th conference, and I can truly say it was like no other.

My term as ATIF’s Vice President ended on December 31st, and although I had mixed feelings about it, I truly think I must retreat and process everything I learned during these two years, and think about the direction I want to take in terms of volunteer work. However, I remain ATIF’s Webmaster and I’m currently helping the incoming board get settled in their new (virtual) home.

What I learned as ATIF’s Vice President:
– Parliamentary rules
– Mechanics of ATA as an organization
– Greater respect for the work of those who serve in boards of volunteer-based organizations
– Working with volunteers
– Politics.

How it all started: The Savvy Newcomer blog

This April will mark the 3rd anniversary of my involvement with The Savvy Newcomer, ATA’s blog for newcomers to the T&I profession. The synergy of this team is amazing. Our work together resembles that of an orchestra –we all know how to play our part and we’re all in tune. At the beginning there were just three of us, and now we have grown to be team of seven people who each bring a unique ingredient to the mix. We hold regular meetings, we have a fail-safe system, and if a team member needs support, we all come to the rescue. I am the blog’s webmaster, and as such, I’m in charge of keeping things organized, maintaining the blogging schedule, and setting up posts. Over these three years we have evolved and become a more complex entity, with active engagement in Twitter, regular reblogs, as well as original content provided by authors we all invite to write for the blog. Our readership spans over five continents, we have an average of 2450 views per month, and we were featured in the October 2014 issue of The Chronicle.

My work at The Savvy Newcomer feels like an enjoyable group assignment from graduate school, where we’re all experienced professionals, we all bring something relevant to the table, and we’re putting together this great project. Our readers are our graders, and seems like we’re doing ok!

Daniela Guanipa, Inc.

Professionally, 2015 was one of my best years (if not the best), and I had the opportunity to work in really interesting projects, grow my portfolio of direct clients, and also saw an increase of work from agencies I enjoy working with.

One of the most rewarding projects was Operation Pedro Pan, an exhibit for the local museum, HistoryMiami, which tells the story of Cuban children who were sent to the United States by their parents between 1960 and 1962. It was the biggest exodus of unaccompanied minors recorded in the Western Hemisphere. As Cuban descent, this project was very close to my heart. The project involved translating exhibit panels, artifact labels, and subtitling the centerpiece of the exhibit: A series of videos produced by my friend and neighbor, Gaspar González, which displayed around the exhibit and gave the illusion that a person was sitting in front of you, talking about his or her experience. This was a very powerful and emotional exhibit, unlike anything I have ever seen. It was a great honor to have worked on this project. ATIF’s founder and former President, Giovanna Lester, visited the exhibit and later interviewed me to get some insider details.

With Dr. Navarro during the Medical Terminology Workshop.
With Dr. Navarro (and Florencio!) during the Medical Terminology Workshop in August, 2015.

In the continuing education arena, I had the opportunity to attend a fantastic medical terminology workshop, taught by no other than Dr. Fernando Navarro, and organized by Daniel Tamayo from GlobalTradu. The three-day course took place in Pomona, California, and it was an unforgettable experience, both academically, and socially.

And although I didn’t write any content for The Language of Translation, I did pen some articles here and there, such as the storyline and some posts in the Letters to Florencio series –ATA Conference’s mascot last year–, a couple of articles for The Savvy Newcomer, and an interview about transcreation from Sajan.

What about me?

With my family in Indianapolis.
With my family in Indianapolis during Christmas, 2015.

Aside from all the professional excitement, the past 600 days have also been a wonderful journey at a personal level. My baby girl is no longer a baby and has marched into full-fledged toddlerhood, while my oldest daughter is now in prekindergarten. I guess the day a woman becomes a mother she enters into this roller coaster-type realm that is just as exhilarating as unpredictable, and we are forced to discover that ever-adapting side of ourselves in order to navigate this new world. As chaotic as it may sound, I absolutely love it and I believe is given me a different perspective that also permeates into my professional life. It’s totally a yin-yang state.

But I know I wouldn’t be where I am today if it weren’t for the love and support of my husband, and my two daughters: Thank you for allowing me to dream, for dreaming with me, and for being my dream come true.

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